Imágenes de páginas

country, or, at least, to keep company with the Arrias and Portias of old Rome : Some of our ladies know better things. But, it may be, I am partial to my own writings; yet I have laboured as much as any man, to divest myself of the self opinion of an author; and am too well satisfied of my own weakness, to be pleased with any thing I have written. But, on the other side, my reason tells me, that, in probability, what I have seriously and long considered, may be as likely to be just and natural, as what an ordinary judge (if there be any such among those ladies) will think fit, in a transient presentation, to be placed in the room of that which they condemn. The most judicious writer is sometimes mistaken, after all his care; but the hasty critic, who judges on a yiew, is full as liable to be de ceived. Let him first consider all the arguments which the author had, to write this, or to design the other, before he arraigns him of a fault; and then, perhaps, on second thoughts, he will find his reason oblige him to revoke his censure. Yet, after all, I will not be too positive. Homo sum, humani à me nihil alienum puto. As I am a man, I must be changeable ; and sometimes the gravest of us all are so, even upon ridiculous accidents. Our minds are perpetually wrought on by the temperament of our bodies ; which makes me suspect they are nearer allied than either our philosophers or school-divines will allow them to be. I have observed, says Montaigne, that when the body is out of order, its companion is seldom at his ease. An ill dream, or a cloudy day, has power to change this wretched creature, who is so proud of a reasonable soul, and make him think what he thought not yesterday. And Homer was of this opinion, as Cicero is pleased to translate him for us:

Tales sunt hominum mentes, quali pater ipse
Jupiter auctifera lustravit lampade terras.

Or, as the same author, in his “Tusculan Questions,". speaks, with more modesty than usual, of himself: Nos in diem vivimus ; quodcunque animos nostros probabilitate percussit, id dicimus. It is not therefore impossible, but that I may alter the conclusion of my play, to restore myself into the good graces of my fair critics; and your lordship, who is so well with them, may do me the office of a friend and patron, to intercede with them on my promise of amendment. The impotent lover in Petronius, though his was a very unpardonable crime, yet was received to mercy on the terms I offer. Summa excusationis meæ hæc est: Placebo tibi, si culpam emendare permiseris.

But I am conscious to myself of offering at a greater boldness, in presenting to your view what my meanness can produce, than in any other error of my play ; and therefore make hasté to break off this tedious address, which has, I know not how, already run itself into so much of pedantry, with an excuse of Tully's which he sent with his books “ De Finibus,“ to his friend Brutus : De ipsis rebus autem, sæpenumerò, Brute, vereor ne reprehendar, cum hæc ad te scribam, qui tum in poesi, (I change it from philosophid) tum in optimo genere poeseos tantum processeris. Quod si facerem quasi te erudiens, jure reprehenderer. Sed ab eo plurimùm absum : Nec, ut ea cognoscas quæ tibi notissima sunt, ad te mitto ; sed quid

facillimè in nomine tuo acquiesco, et quia te habeo æquissimum eorum studiorum, quæ mihi communia tecum sunt, æstimatorem et judicem. Which you may please, my lord, to apply to yourself, from him, who is, Your Lordship's Most obedient, Humble servant,


[ocr errors]


OUR author, by experience, finds it true,
'Tis much more hard to please himself than you ;,
And out of no feign'd modesty, this day
Damns his laborious trifle of a play:
Not that it's worse than what before he writ,
But he has now another taste of wit;
And, to confess a truth, though out of time,
Grows weary of his long-loved mistress, Rhyme.
Passion's too fierce to be in fetters bound,
And nature flies him like enchanted ground:
What verse can do, he has perform'd in this,
Which he presumes the most correct of his ;
But spite of all his pride, a secret me
Invades his breast at Shakespeare's sacred name:
Awed when he hears his godlike Romans rage,
He, in a just despair, would quit the stage ;
And to an age less polish’d, more unskill'd,
Does, with disdain, the foremost honours yield.
As with the greater dead he dares not strive,
He would not match his verse with those who live:
Let him retire, betwixt two ages cast,
The first of this, and hindmost of the last.
A losing gamester, let him sneak away;
He bears no ready money from the play.
The fate, which governs poets, thought it fit
He should not raise his fortunes by his wit.
The clergy thrive, and the litigious bar;
Dull heroes fatten with the spoils of war :
All southern vices, heaven be praised, are here;
But wit's a luxury you think too dear.
When you to cultivate the plant are loth,
'Tis a shrewd sign 'twas never of your growth;
And wit in northern climates will not blow,
Except, like orange-trees, 'tis housed from snow.
There needs no care to put a playhouse down,
'Tis the most desart place of all the town:
We and our neighbours, to speak proudly, are,
Like monarchs, ruin'd with expensive war;
While, like wise English, unconcern'd you sit,
And see us play the tragedy of wit.

[merged small][ocr errors]


The Old Emperor.
MORAT, his

younger Son.
ARIMANT, Governor of Agra.
MIR BABA, Indian Lords, or Omrahs, of se-

veral Factions.

NOURMAHAL, the Empress.
IŅDAMORA, a Captive Queen.
MELESINDA, Wife to Morat.
ZAYDA, favourite Slave to the Empress.

[merged small][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »